Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are lipid enclosed envelopes that carry biologically active material such as proteins, RNA, metabolites and lipids. EVs can modulate the cellular status of other cells locally in tissue microenvironments or through liberation into peripheral blood. Adipocyte-derived EVs are elevated in the peripheral blood and show alterations in their cargo (RNA and protein) during metabolic disturbances, including obesity and diabetes. Adipocyte-derived EVs can regulate the cellular status of neighboring vascular cells, such as endothelial cells and adipose tissue resident macrophages to promote adipose tissue inflammation. Investigating alterations in adipocyte-derived EVs in vivo is complex because EVs derived from peripheral blood are highly heterogenous and contain EVs from other sources, namely platelets, endothelial cells, erythrocytes and muscle. Therefore, the culture of human adipocytes provides a model system for the study of adipocyte derived EVs. Here, we provide a detailed protocol for the extraction of total small EVs from cell culture media of human gluteal and abdominal adipocytes using filtration and ultracentrifugation. We further demonstrate the use of Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) for quantification of EV size and concentration and show the presence of EV-protein tumor susceptibility gene 101 (TSG101) in the gluteal and abdominal adipocyte derived-EVs. Isolated EVs from this protocol can be used for downstream analysis, including transmission electron microscopy, proteomics, metabolomics, small RNA-sequencing, microarrays and can be utilized in functional in vitro/in vivo studies.
J Vis Exp